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Andy Thornton’s Proposed Code of Points

I’ve had it.
I’ve given this code of points three years, and something’s still not right. We’ve complained long enough. We’ve made it abundantly clear that we miss the artistry, we miss the originality, and we miss the 10. We’ve watched from the sidelines as the FIG has managed to reduce the coolest sport in the world to some mathematical game that rewards numbers on a piece of paper more than all the things that we fell in love with when we first became true gymnastics fans. They’ve turned a subjective sport into an objective one, and in the process removed the beauty, art, and style upon which this sport is based. Well today, I’m changing it back.
I’ve devised my own code of points that I feel represents the direction we need to be moving back towards in this sport. It’s simple and easy to understand. It rewards all of the aspects of the sport that we admire, respect, and yearn for. It makes sense. Even better, it might be possible to get a 10.
The rules apply to both men and women, and they work like this:
There are two panels for all events:
  1. An objective panel (O-panel)
  2. A subjective panel (S-panel)
For all events except for vault:
The O-panel consists of three scores:
  1. Value Parts                               (5 points)
  2. Element Groups                        (5 points)
  3. Difficulty                                   (10 points)
The S-panel consists of four scores:
1. Execution                                  (10 points)
2. Artistry/Aesthetic value (10 points)
3. Originality                                  (5 points)
4. Amplitude/Virtuosity                  (5 points)
Here’s a look at what each component entails:
O-panel
Value Parts (5 points): Ten skills are required, worth 0.5 each. Any value counts; as long as you have ten elements, you get the full 5 points. Nine elements equals 4.5 points, eight elements equals 4 points, etc.
Element Groups (5 points): Five element groups are required, worth 1 point each. Dismounts must be of a C-value (not a D as is currently required). A B-dismount counts as 0.5 points for that element group, and an A-dismount or no dismount counts as zero points for that element group. Any value counts for the other four element groups.
Difficulty (10 points): D’s count as 1 point, E’s count as 2 points, F’s count as 3 points, and G’s count as four points. Connection points can be awarded on several events (back-to-back release skills, tumbling connections, etc.). Ten points is the maximum. A routine that has no D or higher level skills would receive zero points in this category.
S-panel
Execution (10 points): In contrast to the way routines are judged now, execution scores would be given an overall score out of 10, in increments of 0.5. In other words, the judge actually sits back and watches the routine and gives it a general execution rating out of 10 – based on overall form, landings, and other deductions. No writing is necessary unless the judge wants to add some general notes at the end of the routine. A 10 would be given if absolutely no visible errors were seen, including on the dismount. Falls are an automatic 2 point deduction. For example, if the gymnast falls, the judge should evaluate the rest of the routine as he/she normally would and then deduct 2 points for the fall. So if one fall occurs, the maximum execution score is an 8. If two falls occur, the maximum is a 6, etc.
Artistry (10 points): The routine will be given a subjective rating out of 10 (with increments of 0.5) based on the artistic value and how beautiful the routine is to watch.  On some events, like floor and beam, this will refer to choreography and presentation. On the other events, artistry will be based on things like body alignment, positions, and overall flow of the routine. General presentation is always included in this category.
Originality (5 points): The routine will be given a subjective rating out of 5 based on how original the routine is (again, increments of 0.5). Unique skills, unique combinations, and unique choreography will result in a higher score here. If there is no originality at all, a zero can be awarded.
Amplitude/Virtuosity (5 points): This is the category that will reward high-flying release moves, huge tumbling passes and vaults, exceptional elevation on pommel horse, and exceptional height and extension on leaps on beam/floor. This is where the big daring gymnastics outscores the safe and conservative gymnastics. Again, increments of 0.5 with a maximum of 5 points. If the routine demonstrates very minimal amplitude with nothing that qualifies as “virtuous,” a zero can be awarded.
For Vault:
The O-panel consists of just one score:
  1. Difficulty                       (10 points)
The S-panel consists of two scores:
  1. Execution                     (10 points)
  2. Amplitude/Virtuosity     (5 points)
Every vault will have a difficulty rating up to 10 (0.5 increments, can do smaller increments if necessary), while the execution and amplitude/virtuosity categories work the same as on the other events.
As you can see, for all events except for vault, the maximum O-score is 20, and the maximum S-score is 30, so the total score is based out of 50 points. The total is then divided by 5 to get the final score out of a 10. For example, a perfect 50 is divided by 5 to give a score of 10.0 (I think some gymnasts would be capable of it). A 48 out of 50 would be a 9.6, a 43.5 out of 50 would be an 8.7, etc. Of course, we should still have multiple judges and averages should still be taken. I think 2 judges for the O-panel, and 4 judges for the S-panel would be reasonable, with the highs and lows dropped in each category for the subjective scores. Judges would be completely BLIND to the subjective scores of the other judges.
For vault, the result (out of 25 points) will be divided by 2.5 to get a score out of 10. Notice that the final score can actually be higher than the difficulty value! For example, if the difficulty value of the vault is 8.0 but you give a 10 in execution and a 5 in amplitude, the final score is a 9.2! The range of difficulty values must be wide (from 1 to 10) to allow for appropriate final scores.
This system brings back what virtually everyone around the world has been missing so dearly for many years now – the subjective nature of the sport! And giving an “overall” execution score may seem like a novel and crazy idea, but this is what they’ve done in the sport of diving for years. It would allow the judges to stop burying their heads into their pen and paper and actually sit back and do what the rest of us fans are doing at home – watch the routine! Sometimes when we become so focused on deducting for minute details, we miss the opportunity to enjoy and appreciate the routine for what it really is. My code of points is designed to allow for that.
I also think this type of code would pull the audience back into gymnastics. The current system is so complicated, so confusing, and so unpredictable (particularly on the women’s side right now) that the fans are actually pushed away – almost ostracized – from the competition. A system like this would actually allow the audience to “participate in the judging”, much like the way we subjectively judge beauty pageants or contests like American Idol from our living rooms at home. Making the audience feel capable of evaluating the routines is essential to making them feel a part of the event. They would develop their own opinions and consequently more of an interest in the gymnastics.
So what do you think?
Next…we’ll try judging some routines with my proposed Code of Points!